Come Alive :: Stanley Spencer, “The Resurrection, Cookham”

Spencer - The Resurrection at Cookham.jpg
Stanley Spencer, The Resurrection at Cookham; Oil on canvas; 1923-27.

Death is something we all must face and all, in one way or another, fear. There is a finality to it that is shocking and feels unnatural to us. Even though we understand and experience the breakdown of our bodies, even “natural” death feels wrong, not to mention the death that feels untimely. We all grieve over loved ones who have passed away, and someday others will likely grieve over our passing. One of the most important aspects of our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is the way He turns the tables on death in the most dramatic of ways. Jesus dies on the Cross but is not held in death. He burst forth with life, thereby destroying death. As the Apostle Paul writes, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). The flip-side of death’s destruction is the promise of resurrection to all who have faith in Christ Jesus. In his painting, The Resurrection at Cookham, Stanley Spencer depicts the wonder of resurrection in the churchyard of Cookham, the village where he lived many years. Up from their tombs rise Spencer’s family members and local friends, as well as those from faraway lands. Right in their midst are biblical figures, like Moses, and all are under the gaze of God on the church porch. There is a wonderful mixture between the ordinary and the extraordinary in this painting. We are reminded that the most glorious work of God in Jesus’ resurrection touches ordinary lives in ordinary places both in our present time and at the end of all time.

[This painting can be found in the Tate Gallery in London.]

2 thoughts on “Come Alive :: Stanley Spencer, “The Resurrection, Cookham”

  1. Good morning. I have often thought about death. There have been times in my life when I have thought about taking my own life. And, sadly, there have also been times when I have thought about taking the life of others. I suppose at another time in my past, I have lived in fear of death. As you stated, “Death is something we all must face and all, in one way or another, fear.” However, I can state as a fact that today, I do not fear death. Of myself, or others. I no longer see anything to fear about death, at least in the physical sense. More importantly, I no longer fear spiritual death. I lived for many years, in fact most of my life, with a “head knowledge” of God, and His Word. But over the past few months, I have finally given myself over to God, and I now know Him in my heart, as I never did before. And in knowing God today, I can say again, I do not fear death. In Philippians 1:23-24, Paul writes of two possible outcomes: “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless, to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” Mind you, I am in no way comparing myself to Paul. I am just relating to his desires here as being content about his death. I hope you can understand what I mean. Anyway, I have more that I could say, but I don’t know if this platform will allow the space to say it, so I will just leave it at that.

    In Him,

    • Thank you so much for your response, Bernard. I read such a depth of honesty in your words and I think you for sharing that here. I also read within your words a deep assurance in God that seems to outpace your previous experience. What a blessing that you have experienced that and I pray the Lord will continue to strengthen you in His ways.

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